Jul 06 2009

Trek Fan’s Review Forum

Published by at 5:44 pm under Review Forums

I’m working on a superhero novel called The Black Maverick, a story of a young man who is given a gift he doesn’t rightly know how to use. Even with the help of allies, he makes enemies far more ruthless then he. Can he help save his city from the onslaught of his enemies or will he fall to the temptations that come with his powers?

31 responses so far

31 Responses to “Trek Fan’s Review Forum”

  1. trekfanon 13 Jul 2009 at 6:23 pm

    All right folks, I want to welcome you to trekfan’s review forum. Here I’ll be posting the story called The Black Maverick. (pardon the lack of Italics and Bold, but HTML code is not my strong suit. Never has been :) Learning this on the fly.)

    Anyways, the rundown:

    What I’m writing: ^The Black Maverick. I seem to be ahead of myself already. That’s what I’m mainly working on at the moment. I have a bunch of other projects scattered about the internet, but here The Black Maverick finally gets the exclusive attention it deserves. It’s been an on again/off again project since 2005 and I recently took up to rewriting it yet again nearly a year ago. I think this would make it the third or fourth rewrite so far.

    (EXTRA INFO) It came about from an idea my brother and I batted around some years ago. When we were younger, like many boys, we had a huge collection of action figures that we played with. We combined universes and characters together to make a mash up the world has never seen. We had out adventures and fun, but as we grew older the action figures (many of them superheros/heroes AKA Batmans, Supermans, Transformers, Gundams, DBZ, and others) lost their appeal.

    He went one way and I another. My creativity didn’t cease though, and as he found his outlet through drawing I find mine through writing. Naturally, it was the evolutions of our playdays as younger children. The idea came about that we should combine our forces and make a comic book based around our characters.

    Well, in 2005 we finally did it. We began and it went and went and went, but as the year came to a close creative differences arose and we split. The idea fizzled out from there, but the rough draft of the story was still mine.

    And so it sat as I worked on it for 2006 but got little else out of it. It wasn’t until 2007 that I decided to rewrite it from the beginning and began to build it into what would eventually become “The Black Maverick.”

    So, that’s how it went. But I became increasingly weary at the way my story began to take shape. It didn’t feel quite right. I looked at other novels and I found my work woefully short of them on their worst days. Thusly, I sat it down, never quite sure if I would pick it up again.

    But the summer of 2008 proved too much for even me and the onslaught of superhero movies (Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, The Dark Knight) re-energized me and I once again dismantled “The Black Maverick” and began to build it from the ground up. I found something there I really liked and began to post it in some of the other sites I visit. The response was favorable compared to the earlier draft of 2007.

    So it has worked its way till now. Here, a year later, “The Black Maverick” continues on after I had to stop writing it due to massive time constraints.

    *ahem*

    Target Audience: Anyone who cares to read it. I’m not picky and I don’t delude myself into thinking this will one day get published. It might, and if that day comes, I’ll be happy. The main purpose of the book is to express my creativity and make people glad they read it. This will appeal to many different people. If I had to be specific, perhaps the Teenage-Young adult audience would be the demographic.

    *****

    Now, for those who care to review this, first and foremost, thank you. I’ve been struggling to find a sounding board for this piece for a good while and it please me to no end that this place provides what I need.

    Secondly, I post chapters sequentially (I believe that’s the right word) and so it will follow Ch.1, 2, 3 ect.

    Thirdly (perhaps not the right word), background material will be posted if asked for. I do reserve the right to hold things back if I feel it will take away from the story, but I’m rather open so ask away and you shall more than likely, receive.

    Finally, I welcome all of you here and I hope you enjoy. Thank you. :)

  2. trekfanon 13 Jul 2009 at 6:52 pm

    Ch. 1

    The intense heat of the desert caused him to sweat. He was trying his best to escape the heat, but he failed immensely. The tent he was under was made of a green fabric, and best of all was like an oven. It was going to cook him alive, and if his team had anything to do with it they’d butter him up and stuff him too. Like a turkey.

    The day was slowly beginning to turn to night. Life was a little less bearable here in Iran. Okay, more than a little less bearable. It was completely unbearable. The life he led was interesting. His life was no more important than anyone else’s, but it was far more thrilling. The thrill is what made him enjoy life, and it’s what pained him too.

    Some things didn’t change. He’d joined the air force at 18, and went through boot camp like everyone else. He was thoroughly trained to be in good shape. Then he was approached by people not of the air force. People who weren’t part of any military branch known to man. These people were calculating and cool under fire. He had seen that himself. So, at 19, he joined with them. It wasn’t an easy decision. It was the hardest of his life. At the end of the day, he had to make a tough choice.

    That choice led him to another year of training, some of the most grueling mental and physical training he’d ever been through. That training led him to believe more than ever that whatever force controlled the universe had a plan for him. There were a number of times where he should have failed, and yet he succeeded. He succeeded by virtue of his will and some help by the fates.

    So, this was his fate now. He had been sent to Iran to track down someone who his organization wanted desperately. That someone was deemed such a threat his team was armed to the teeth. Grenades, bazookas, automatic machine guns, sniper rifles, and other weapons. He hadn’t seen them all, his clearance was low. He only was allowed to see a little.

    He was the newbie on the team. He was accepted easily enough, but his team had made sure to haze him with great effort. He was still fearful of honey. After what they did to him, who wouldn’t be?

    “Mike…Mike, you there?”

    He turned to see his friend’s freckled face, his shock of red hair, and his green eyes making him the Irish wise cracker he was. Of course, Mike wasn’t fooled by the kind one.

    “Brian…I have to say, you’re in a good mood.”

    The red head smiled. “I am. Know why?”

    “You’ve found true love?”

    Brian’s smiled grew wider. “No…I found some half decent food. Take a whiff.” He brought out a hand wrapped sandwich, and Mike stared at him in awe.

    “You snuck off the grounds?” The team had been ordered to stay put. No entering the nearby town under any circumstances, unless ordered by a superior officer. Most soldiers would have stayed put like Mike, but Brian O’Donnell was a rule breaker by design. He’d never been able to follow every rule. He hadn’t been able to follow many at all.

    “You bet. I have no doubt that you’re…interested?”

    “Yes.” He didn’t even hesitate. His stomach was now in control. The meal they had eaten at dinner was hardly a meal. Rations with some mildly fresh water.

    Brian looked at him mischievously. “Now…what will I make you do for it?”

    Mike stared at him in shock. “You wouldn’t?”

    “I would.” He leaned back and looked over the sandwich that he was holding. “It’s a big sandwich Mike…fact is, I couldn’t eat it myself. I know that there are others who might want to half it with me.”

    Mike stared at him. He couldn’t believe his ears. He knew that in order to get the sandwich he was going to have to do something horrid. “What do you want?”

    “Ferguson, I knew you would be interested.” He grinned and leaned forward, his eyes never leaving Mike’s. “So…perhaps you’ll be willing to part with that little piece of candy you managed to get a few weeks back.”

    Mike folded his arms. “The one that I got from the market place?”

    “The same one.”

    Brian struck a hard bargain. That candy was like taffy, but it tasted like chocolate. It was among the hardest things to find in the area of the world they were in, and when Mike had bought it at that marketplace Brian had eyed it carefully. He’d been planning this for weeks.

    Mike knew for a fact that he would miss this candy. It had been one of the bright spots during his time here. He had made it last this long. It was going to be tough to part with. Furthermore, the relief of having something sweet after a long day was something he valued.

    “You got a deal.” Mike reached for the candy and Brian traded him the sandwich. O’Donnell gave if a sniff and ate it all in one bite. He began to chew on it while Mike ate his sandwich slowly.

    “Wow this is good…I mean, wow.” Mike took another bite and chewed on it, savoring the flavor.

    Brian smiled. “I was told it was made from fresh goat, they even cooked it a little raw.”

    Mike stopped mid-chew and looked down at his sandwich. O’Donnell was right. The meat was barely cooked. Mike’s stomach almost performed a somersault and he fought to keep his food down. The reason this sandwich was so good was because of the spices on it, and how they blended in with the raw meat.

    Brian just smiled. Mike looked at him with cold eyes. He should have known this was a set up. O’Donnell had never been known to play fair. Mike decided then and there to beat him at his own game.

    “Really? I always was a fan of rare.” He put the thought of raw food out of his mind and began to eat more of the sandwich. This was going to be tough to finish, but he knew he had too. If nothing else, to prove Brian wrong and rub it in his face.

    Brian played convinced, but he kept waiting for Mike to vomit. He kept waiting for the inevitable cursing and the usual jabs. None of them came. Because at the end of the day, Mike finished the sandwich and licked his fingers as Brian stared at him in awe.

    “Damn it, Mike. I thought for sure you wouldn’t finish that.”

    He swallowed hard and looked at Brian with amused eyes. “You’re an ass, you know
    that?”

    “Oh, you bet I do. I know I’m an ass. I’m fun though, aren’t I?”

    Mike just sat there and shook his head. That’s when he heard the bell. The bell. The bell that signified a need to get dressed and ready. Their commander was calling them.

    The whole process of dressing was quick. Getting the gear on was not. Mike had spent almost five minutes getting all the gear together, and he arrived at the meeting late. The commander did not like lateness. It was a pet peeve of hers. Mike had seriously considered just skipping the entire thing all together, but Brian made a strong case for going. That case was simple; go or be shipped back with so many marks on your record you’ll never see the light of day again. Mike realized he had been right. Commander Abby Freeman was not someone to piss off.

    Her temper was legendary. She was the toughest of the tough. She wasn’t mean…but she made a hell of an impression on you. Follow the rules or be shipped home. She gave no indication of mercy. She didn’t believe in it. It was a tough world and if she was commanding in it, she would make sure things got done her way. Life was about her way here. That was no different than any military outfit.

    So, he arrived late, but luckily she didn’t notice. Mike breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the meeting still hadn’t started. All fifteen of them were there. A small team, but each person was trained to do their job. Mike was simply support. Give some ammo, fire his machine gun, and provide cover. That was his place. He hadn’t had much use since they’d been assigned here. There hadn’t been any battles so far. No conflict at all.

    Commander Freeman looked at the crowd of soldiers and nodded her head. Her black hair was chopped short, and her body was toned. She was in better shape than most of the team. Mike wasn’t sure why she felt that she needed to be, but he figured that was her way.

    “Today is the day.”

    Her simple words carried much meaning. The crowd of officers began to whisper silently, but Mike and Brian just looked at her curiously. They were both new. No idea who they were chasing, but some people had been chasing this person for years. This was obviously a big moment.

    She held up her hand. “Our target has been sighted in a village three miles from here. Reports indicate he’s not expecting us. I want to keep it that way.”

    She pointed to a large map nearby and Mike stood on his toes to see it. “He’s got himself in a bit of a pickle, team. He’s trapped by nearby canyon walls and a river. The only way out is the way he came in. We’re going to go in and capture him, and finally end this thing.”

    A cheer went up and the soldiers around Mike had wide grins on their faces. Their grins were full of relief. Mike wasn’t sure he wanted to know why they were relieved, and he just fixed his attention on her. She allowed herself a grin too.

    “I know, I know. This is going to be a tough capture, though. Our intelligence reports he’s been accepted as a member of this village. Which means civilian lives are at risk if we attack directly. Thusly, we’re going to call in an air strike, and gas the village. I want most of our forces to wait outside the village entrance, while I take a small squad in and we’ll wait for the strike. He’ll be caught off guard, and that may be enough for us to tranquilize him. If not, and we fail…well, you know the drill.”

    The team went silent as each of them knew what “the drill” was. If the small squad failed, lethal force was authorized. Anything would go, as long as the target was eliminated. That was the paramount goal. If the squad failed, the added meaning was that they were dead. The target was not known for his mercy. He’d killed a number of innocents already. He wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

    Commander Freeman stood tall and she looked at the group as a whole. “We’re gonna take this bastard down tonight. One way or another. We move out in twenty minutes. Godspeed.”

    As the soldiers disbanded, Mike looked at Brian. “This is it.”

    Brian kept staring at the sky. “God help us.”

    The night was humid and hot, but unlike the day the heat wasn’t unbearable. Sunset had come and gone, and now, Mike was left to wonder why. Why was the target here?

    The target had no name. To some, he was a psychopathic killer and to others he was merely a man who committed unspeakable acts of horror throughout the decades. That’s how long this team had been searching for this man, decades. According to what Mike heard, the target escaped from their custody in 1979. From there, he’d been on the run ever since, hiding in different countries throughout the world, leaving no trace of his whereabouts.

    That’s where the resources of the organization came in. Known as the SSA, this organization had recruited Mike for missions that could not be left to the usual organizations, like the FBI or CIA. No, this was the SSA’s territory. Dealing with people that committed hideous crimes. Mike had little knowledge of them. He was working for them, and he got a handsome paycheck every month. That’s how it worked. The other soldiers in the team had no idea who operated the SSA, or where the funding came from.

    The fact was, not many people wanted to know. It was the way of the SSA. The organization informed you on a need to know basis. Which meant, for ordinary soldiers, the need to know was very little. They didn’t need to anything but their mission. Mike had only been with his team for a few months, tracking the target, but he had grown to respect them.

    In those months he never saw any action. This was his first. Trekking through the hot night did not make him feel safe. They were already in enemy territory, as the Iranians did not hide their dislike for the US. The reason the target was here was unclear. He hadn’t been tracked to any Iranian military complexes, so whatever he was doing here didn’t seem to be related to helping the Iranians.

    The fact was the target couldn’t offer much help to them anyway. According to what Mike heard, the man went insane back in ‘79. His brain couldn’t cope. In the process, he killed over four hundred men and women belonging to the SSA. The deaths of those four hundred started the current trend of the SSA. Small numbers of people doing big jobs, with little knowledge. The only person on the whole team who knew anything about what was truly going on was Commander Freeman.

    She had seemed a little nervous before this whole venture started. She hadn’t had the confidence she had before. Maybe it was because how close they were, or maybe it was the truth of the matter that very few people ever came back from an encounter with this man. Time was of the essence. The element of surprise wouldn’t be with them long.

    The comm. in Mike’s ear buzzed, and he realized they were here. General stealth positions were ordered and Mike found cover and activated his night vision. The village ahead of them was in very poor shape. A few houses, more huts, but all of them looked in disrepair. At the center of the village was a bonfire. Obviously, the villagers were celebrating something.

    He heard the sound of jet engines. Very faint, but he heard it. He was an air force brat; he knew the sounds of the planes. This one he didn’t recognize. It wasn’t the first time, but it was disturbing. There were planes being flown that Mike knew nothing about, and he didn’t like the feeling of not knowing. It was empty, yet laced with fear.

    He looked back and saw a thin gas spreading throughout the village. The package had been delivered.

    “Ferguson, O’Donnell, Boraz, and Javier. You’re with me. The rest, hold position. Lethal force is authorized if we don’t make it out.”

    Mike swallowed hard. This is why he was here. He was one of a handful of support men on the team. There were maybe two others. Brian was a sniper, born and raised. He would find a nice spot and camp while the rest would scout the area.

    Mike moved forward and caught sight of Brian heading up to the rooftops of one of the building. He was quiet, stealth trained. Mike fought down the urge to turn around and run, and fell in line behind his commander. She gave him a quick look of reassurance, but there was something else. Something else in her eyes.

    He looked over and saw Javier and Boraz taking up the winged areas. They were in the shadows, walking slowly, barely making a sound. Mike felt a little safer with them there.

    That’s when he heard it. A low, almost inaudible sound coming from above him. He looked up and wondered what it was. It sounded like…like a—

    “COVERING FIRE!!” The order echoed as his commander dragged him down to the dirt and immediately Mike heard gunfire erupt. Something was above him and Mike pointed his gun up and let loose a few rounds. He watched as someone jumped off the roof…

    That someone landed on the roof across from him. That roof was over sixteen yards away. He blinked, unable to comprehend what he just saw. What the hell could do that?

    “Ferguson, pay attention!” His commander’s order snapped him out of it and she turned to look as the target found Javier. He had been climbing onto the roof, but he had been snatched up from the ladder. They sat there and waited. Silence engulfed them.

    She activated her comm. and stared at the roof across from them. “Javier, do you read me?”

    The comm. was silent. Then, someone’s breathing was heard over the line.

    “You’ve gotten sloppy.” Mike stood up, Freeman with him. She looked at the rooftop across from them.

    Javier was hanging down from the roof, his body being held up by his gun strap. His head was twisted around. His neck had been broken.

    She got her gun and looked around. “You’ve killed one of my men. You’re dead.”

    Mike heard laughter over the line. Calm laughter, but the voice had been deep. Not booming, but deep enough to shake you. “So young…what a pity.”

    Boraz flew out of the dark alleyway across from them. He had been impaled by his own rifle. His face bore a look of frozen dread on it. His blood trickling from his mouth.

    Mike blinked. He realized who was next. He dropped his gun and took off running. He hadn’t much time. Not too much time at all. He had to save him. Had to save Brian. He was next. His sniper spot had been discovered. Mike got to the first rooftop and began climbing the ladder. He heard the sound of a sniper rifle going off. He doubled his pace. He reached the roof in time to see Brian struggling with the target.

    The man was only five foot eight, but he held his own. His jet black hair was marred by one red streak. That one streak of red looked the color of blood. Mike hesitated for a second. Just a second. He had come to save his friend, but this man was a killer. He had disposed of two of the best trained individuals in the whole team.

    He decided to go out with some honor. He lunged at the man, dragging him off Brian and onto the ground. That’s when Mike felt it. Something sharp had impaled him. He rolled off the man and looked to his gut, where he saw a knife handle protruding from him. The knife was deep, and the color of red had already stained the fabric around his wound.

    He got up anyway. Agonizing pain shot through his body, but he had given Brian enough time to draw his handgun. His friend fired.

    The target dropped, his body went still. Headshot. Minimal damage, direct frontal impact. The target was down.

    Mike stood there and looked at the man. His face was contorted into a look of pain.

    Brian turned to him and smiled. “I owe you my life.”

    Mike tried his best to keep standing. “Yeah.”

    Another rifle shot echoed through the air. Mike watched as Brian’s face contorted in a brief look of pain before his head hit the ground. Mike looked back at the man. He was standing, a cruel smile on his face. The bullet wound in his head still there, blood still leaking out.

    The man looked at Mike with a pity in his eyes. “So young.” He aimed and fired. Mike fell off the roof from the force of the bullet and landed on the ground below.

    He drifted in and out of consciousness for a few minutes. The last thing he heard was a woman’s scream.

  3. trekfanon 13 Jul 2009 at 6:54 pm

    ^I apologize, the spacing is off. I shall endeavor to fix that in the next chapter. Anyways, any and all comments are welcome. Please enjoy.

  4. Contra Gloveon 13 Jul 2009 at 7:42 pm

    You should capitalize “Air Force.”

    comm.

    This word sounds a little amateurish…I suggest “radio” or something like that.

    Not booming, but deep enough to shake you.

    Try not to use second person outside of dialogue. It doesn’t sound right.

    -*-*-

    As for the action, I can see that it is leading into something rather interesting, especially if the commander knows all of the details. However, you should state what “SSA” actually stands for. Otherwise, I’d say this is okay for a first chapter.

  5. trekfanon 13 Jul 2009 at 7:51 pm

    1. Contra Glove, much thanks. Comm. has been something I’ve always used, but radio can just as easily suffice.

    2. The second person does pop up. It translates well from my head onto paper but from paper to my head, not so much. I’m still trying to work out the logistics of that.

    3. As for the “SSA” the organization is never named fully. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but in my opinion it adds a bit of mystery to the whole matter (however, I am totally biased in the matter). No one refers to it by name, just “SSA”. I came up with a rather hokey name sometime back, but have refused to use it because I just don’t think it works. “SSA” in earlier drafts, was referred to as the “Superhuman Security Agency”. I just don’t think that works with the current premise because the SSA does so much more in this draft than it did originally.

    Feel free to make some suggestions on what “SSA” could stand for.:)

    I shall add your comments to my notes Contra, much obliged.

  6. Contra Gloveon 14 Jul 2009 at 6:13 am

    Thanks. No problem!

  7. trekfanon 14 Jul 2009 at 5:51 pm

    In reading the many articles around here, I find that my work may be laced with a lot of exposition, explaining things to the readers rather than showing them.

    There are a number of chapters I can think of right off the bat that may be really “unworthy” in terms of the standards of a decent novel.

    I don’t know what to think at the moment.

    Judging by my first chapter, I would say that too much exposition is a definite problem.

    I would like your thoughts of course. So, is the exposition present in chapter 1 a problem for you, the reader?

  8. Contra Gloveon 14 Jul 2009 at 6:05 pm

    Actually. I thought the exposition could use a little trimming.

    You’re right — don’t let long explanations become a habit.

  9. trekfanon 14 Jul 2009 at 6:18 pm

    ^*nods* Contra, I am glad you agree with me. This chapter is actually the longest of them all (a surprising 3700 words; it didn’t seem that long to me) and I spend almost half of it explaining who my character is and what he’s doing there. If this was a movie (or a comic book) my audience would be GONE by now (except the people who like to sleep during the movies or read boring things to go to sleep).

    Hmm…I was feeling another rewrite coming along as I re read this thing last night, and now I feel rather justified in doing it.

    There is something to work with there for sure, but rather needs cleaning.

    How much exposition is “enough” in the view of you the reader? A paragraph? Half a page? A page?

    I tend to ramble a lot (ask my speech teacher, who passed me on the fact I did all the research, wrote a good speech, but never got to finish any of them due to my propensity to run over time limits. :) )

    Your advice would be much appreciated.

  10. Marissaon 15 Jul 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Trekfan, only B. Mac, plus his volunteer moderators, can do the [br] HTML tag. Don’t worry, though… We edit them into longer posts anyway. :)

  11. trekfanon 15 Jul 2009 at 1:28 pm

    ^Ah, that explains it. Good stuff, much obliged. All righty, I shan’t worry about it anymore. If you can kindly delete all that junk I just did with the HTML testing, I would much appreciate it. :)

  12. Marissaon 15 Jul 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Done. Good luck with your story.

  13. trekfanon 15 Jul 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Right, this is a revision of chapter one. Factoring in some advice I have garnered around here, I have given chapter one a title, shaved off some of the exposition and named the SSA (Special Services Agency). All of this is up for change, and nothing is set in stone. Feel free to drop comments as you like and please, enjoy.

    ***************

    Chapter One: A Soft Man and a Hard Landing

    The intense heat of the desert caused him to sweat. He was trying his best to escape the heat, but he failed immensely. The tent he was under was made of a green fabric, and best of all was like an oven. It was going to cook him alive, and if his team had anything to do with it they’d butter him up and stuff him too. Like a turkey.

    The day was slowly beginning to turn to night. Life was a little less bearable here in Iran. Okay, more than a little less bearable. It was completely unbearable. He didn’t like being stuck here, in what basically amounted to enemy territory. His skin was dry from the heat and he sweated like a dog here. He didn’t smell any better.

    It was better than where he could be. Stuck at home doing nothing with his life. A lot of people had done that; he knew a good deal many of them too. That’s why he joined up with the Air Force but that wasn’t why he was here. He was here because another opportunity had presented itself.

    An organization called the Special Services Agency or SSA had recruited him after his first six months in the Air Force. They put him through more training and then shipped him off here. He had been sent to Iran with a small team to track down someone the SSA wanted desperately. That someone was deemed such a threat his team was armed to the teeth. Grenades, bazookas, automatic machine guns, sniper rifles, and other weapons. He hadn’t seen them all, his clearance was low. He only was allowed to see a little.

    “Mike…Mike, you there?”

    He put down the book he was barely reading to see his friend’s sunburned face and his military cut red hair, making him the Irish wise cracker he was.

    “Brian…I have to say, you’re in a good mood.”

    The red head smiled. “I am. Know why?”

    “You’ve found true love?”

    Brian’s smiled grew wider. “No…I found some half decent food. Take a whiff.” He brought out a hand wrapped sandwich, and Mike stared at him in awe.

    “You snuck off the grounds?” The team had been ordered to stay put. No entering the nearby town under any circumstances, unless ordered by a superior officer. Most soldiers would have stayed put like Mike, but Brian O’Donnell was a rule breaker by design. He’d never been able to follow every rule. He hadn’t been able to follow many at all.

    “You bet. I have no doubt that you’re…interested?”

    “Yes.” He didn’t even hesitate. His stomach was now in control. The meal they had eaten at dinner was hardly a meal. Rations with some mildly fresh water.

    Brian looked at him mischievously. “Now…what will I make you do for it?”

    Mike stared at him in shock. “You wouldn’t?”

    “I would.” He leaned back and looked over the sandwich that he was holding. “It’s a big sandwich…fact is, I couldn’t eat it myself. I know that there are others who might want to half it with me.”

    Mike stared at him. He couldn’t believe his ears. He knew that in order to get the sandwich he was going to have to do something horrid. “What do you want?”

    “Ferguson, I knew you would be interested.” He grinned and leaned forward, his eyes never leaving Mike’s. “So…perhaps you’ll be willing to part with that little piece of candy you managed to get a few weeks back.”

    Mike folded his arms. “The one that I got from the market place?”

    “The same one.”

    Brian struck a hard bargain. That candy was like taffy, but it tasted like chocolate. It was among the hardest things to find in the area of the world they were in, and when Mike had bought it at that marketplace Brian had eyed it carefully. He’d been planning this for weeks.

    Mike knew for a fact that he would miss this candy. It had been one of the bright spots during his time here. He had made it last this long. It was going to be tough to part with. Furthermore, the relief of having something sweet after a long day was something he valued.

    “You got a deal.” Mike reached for the candy and Brian traded him the sandwich. Brian gave if a sniff and ate it all in one bite. He began to chew on it while Mike ate his sandwich slowly.

    “Wow this is good…I mean, wow.” Mike took another bite and chewed on it, savoring the flavor.

    Brian smiled. “I was told it was made from fresh goat; they even cooked it a little raw.”

    Mike stopped mid-chew and looked down at his sandwich. Brian was right. The meat was barely cooked. Mike’s stomach almost performed a somersault and he fought to keep his food down. The reason this sandwich was so good was because of the spices on it, and how they blended in with the raw meat.

    Brian just smiled. Mike looked at him with cold eyes. He should have known this was a set up. The Irishmen had never been known to play fair. Mike decided then and there to beat him at his own game.

    “Really? I always was a fan of rare.” He put the thought of raw food out of his mind and began to eat more of the sandwich. This was going to be tough to finish, but he knew he had to. If nothing else, to prove Brian wrong and rub it in his face.

    Brian played convinced, but he kept waiting for Mike to vomit. He kept waiting for the inevitable cursing and the usual jabs. None of them came. Because at the end of the day, Mike finished the sandwich and licked his fingers as Brian stared at him in awe.

    “Damn it, Mike. I thought for sure you wouldn’t finish that.”

    He swallowed hard and looked at Brian with amused eyes. “You’re an ass, you know that?”

    “Oh, you bet I do. I know I’m an ass. I’m fun though, aren’t I?”

    Mike just sat there and shook his head. That’s when he heard the bell. The bell. The bell that signified a need to get dressed and ready. Their commander was calling them.


    The whole process of dressing was quick. Getting the gear on was not. Mike had spent almost five minutes getting all the gear together, and he arrived at the meeting late. The gear itself weighed nearly fifty pounds and it strained his back. He was already late but he knew he better show up anyway. Commander Abby Freeman was not someone to piss off.

    Her temper was legendary. She was the toughest of the tough. She wasn’t mean…but she made a hell of an impression on you. Follow the rules or be shipped home. She gave no indication of mercy. She didn’t believe in it. It was a tough world and if she was commanding in it, she would make sure things got done her way. Life was about her way here. That was no different than any military outfit.

    So, he arrived late, but luckily she didn’t notice. Mike breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the meeting still hadn’t started. All fifteen of them were there. A small team, but each person was trained to do their job. Mike was simply support. Give some ammo, fire his machine gun, and provide cover. That was his place. He hadn’t had much use since they’d been assigned here. There hadn’t been any battles so far. No conflict at all.

    Commander Freeman looked at the crowd of soldiers and nodded her head. Her black hair was chopped short, and her body was toned. She was in better shape than most of the team. Mike wasn’t sure why she felt that she needed to be, but he figured that was her way.

    “Today is the day.”

    Her simple words carried much meaning. The crowd of officers began to whisper silently, but Mike and Brian just looked at her curiously. They were both new. They had a little knowledge on who they were chasing, but some of the team had been chasing this person for years.

    She held up her hand. “Our target has been sighted in a village three miles from here. Reports indicate he’s not expecting us. I want to keep it that way.”

    She pointed to a large map nearby and Mike stood on his toes to see it. “He’s trapped by nearby canyon walls and a river. The only way out is the way he came in. We’re going to go in and capture him, and finally end this thing.”

    A cheer went up and the soldiers around Mike had wide grins on their faces. Their grins were full of relief. Mike wasn’t sure he wanted to know why they were relieved, and he just fixed his attention on her. She allowed herself a grin too.

    “I know, I know. This is going to be a tough capture, though. Our intelligence reports he’s been accepted as a member of this village. Which means civilian lives are at risk if we attack directly. Thusly, we’re going to call in an air strike, and gas the village. I want most of our forces to wait outside the village entrance, while I take a small squad in and we’ll wait for the strike. He’ll be caught off guard, and that may be enough for us to tranquilize him. If not, and we fail…well, you know the drill.”

    The team went silent as each of them knew what “the drill” was. If the small squad failed, lethal force was authorized. Anything would go, as long as the target was eliminated. That was the paramount goal. If the squad failed, the added meaning was that they were dead. The target was not known for his mercy. He’d killed a number of innocents already. He wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

    Commander Freeman stood tall and she looked at the group as a whole. “We’re gonna take this bastard down tonight. One way or another. We move out in twenty minutes. Godspeed.”

    As the soldiers disbanded, Mike looked at Brian. “This is it.”

    Brian kept staring at the sky. “God help us.”


    The night was humid and hot, but unlike the day the heat wasn’t unbearable. Sunset had come and gone, and now, Mike was left to wonder why. Why was the target here?

    The target had no name. To some, he was a psychopathic killer and to others he was merely a man who committed unspeakable acts of horror throughout the decades. That’s how long the SSA had been searching for this man, decades. According to what Mike heard, the target escaped from their custody in 1979. From there, he’d been on the run ever since, hiding in different countries throughout the world, leaving no trace of his whereabouts.

    That’s where the resources of the SSA came in. They dealt with missions that could not be left to the usual organizations, like the FBI or CIA. The SSA dealt with people that committed hideous crimes. Mike had little knowledge of them. He was working for them, and he got a handsome paycheck every month. That’s how it worked. The other soldiers in the team had no idea who operated the SSA, or where the funding came from.

    The fact was, not many people wanted to know. It was the way of the SSA. The organization informed you on a need to know basis. Which meant, for ordinary soldiers, the need to know was very little. They didn’t need to anything but their mission.

    In the months he’d been here he never saw any action. This was his first. Trekking through the hot night did not make him feel safe. They were already in enemy territory, as the Iranians did not hide their dislike for the US.

    That brought Mike back to the question; why was the target here? The reason was unclear. He hadn’t been tracked to any Iranian military complexes, so whatever he was doing here didn’t seem to be related to helping the Iranians.

    The fact was the target couldn’t offer much help to them anyway. According to what Mike heard, the man went insane back in ‘79. In the process of losing his mind, he killed over four hundred men and women belonging to the SSA. The deaths of those four hundred started the current trend of the SSA. Small numbers of people doing big jobs, with little knowledge. The only person on the whole team who knew anything about what was truly going on was Commander Freeman.

    She had seemed a little nervous before this whole venture started. She hadn’t had the confidence she had before. Maybe it was because how close they were, or maybe it was the truth of the matter that very few people ever came back from an encounter with this man. Time was of the essence. The element of surprise wouldn’t be with them long.

    The radio in Mike’s ear buzzed, and he realized they were here. General stealth positions were ordered and Mike found cover and activated his night vision. The village ahead of them was in very poor shape. A few houses, more huts, but all of them looked in disrepair. The air was thick with the smell of smoke from the bonfire at the center of the village.

    He heard the sound of jet engines. Very faint, but he heard it. He was an Air Force brat; he knew the sounds of planes. This one he didn’t recognize. It wasn’t the first time, but it was disturbing. There were planes being flown that Mike knew nothing about, and he didn’t like the feeling of not knowing. It was empty, yet laced with fear.

    He looked back and saw a thin gas spreading throughout the village. The package had been delivered.

    “Ferguson, O’Donnell, Boraz, and Javier. You’re with me. The rest, hold position. Lethal force is authorized if we don’t make it out.”

    Mike swallowed hard. This is why he was here. He was one of a handful of support men on the team. There were maybe two others. Brian was a sniper, born and raised. He would find a nice spot and camp while the rest would scout the area.

    Mike moved forward and caught sight of Brian heading up to the rooftops of one of the building. He was quiet, stealth trained. Mike fought down the urge to turn around and run, and fell in line behind his commander. She gave him a quick look of reassurance, but there was something else in her eyes…fear. She was scared, but why? What did she know that Mike didn’t?

    He looked over and saw Javier and Boraz taking up the winged areas. They were in the shadows, walking slowly, barely making a sound. Mike felt a little safer with them there.

    That’s when he heard it. A low, almost inaudible sound coming from above him. He looked up and wondered what it was. It sounded like…like a—

    “COVERING FIRE!!” The order echoed as his commander dragged him down to the dirt and immediately Mike heard gunfire erupt. Something was above him and Mike pointed his gun up and let loose a few rounds. He watched as someone jumped off the roof…

    That someone landed on the roof across from him. That roof was over sixteen yards away. He blinked, unable to comprehend what he just saw. What the hell could do that?

    “Ferguson, pay attention!” His commander’s order snapped him out of it and she turned to look as the target found Javier. He had been climbing onto the roof, but he had been snatched up from the ladder. They sat there and waited. Silence engulfed them.

    She activated her radio and stared at the roof across from them. “Javier, do you read me?”

    The radio was silent. Then, someone’s breathing was heard over it.

    “You’ve gotten sloppy.” Mike stood up, Freeman with him. She looked at the rooftop across from them.

    Javier was hanging down from the roof, his body being held up by his gun strap. His head was twisted around. His neck had been broken.

    She got her gun and looked around. “Show yourself or be killed!”

    Mike heard laughter over the radio. Calm laughter, but the voice had been deep. Not booming, but deep enough to make Mike shiver. “So young…what a pity.”

    Boraz flew out of the dark alleyway across from them. He had been impaled by his own rifle. His face bore a look of frozen dread on it. His blood trickling from his mouth.

    Mike blinked. He realized who was next. He dropped his gun and took off running. He hadn’t much time. Not too much time at all. He had to save him. Had to save Brian. He was next. His sniper spot had been discovered. Mike got to the first rooftop and began climbing the ladder. He heard the sound of a sniper rifle going off. He doubled his pace. He reached the roof in time to see Brian struggling with the target.

    The man’s hair was messy, his clothes ragged, but his body clean. His hair was covered in blood, dripping off him onto the ragged clothes. The target didn’t seem to care, too busy enjoying the moment. Mike hesitated for a second. Just a second. He had come to save his friend, but this man was a killer. He had disposed of two of the best trained individuals in the whole team. Mike’s heart beat in his ears like a drum thump thump thump thumpthumpthump thump…

    He decided to go out with some honor. He lunged at the man, dragging him off Brian and onto the ground. He locked his arms against the target’s head, trying to push him into the rooftop. That’s when Mike felt it. Something sharp had impaled him…the metal a stark contrast to his skin, the cold steel sending shivers through his body. He rolled off the target and looked to his gut. The knife was in deep, and the color of red had already stained the fabric around his wound. Mike reached out with his right hand, seeing it shake as it touched the knife handle. Was it really there?

    He focused on Brian and saw him reaching for his handgun. He scraped his knees as he stood. His face was red from the pulsating pain and he reached out, dragging the target back. That was all it took as his friend fired.

    The target dropped, his body went still. Headshot. Minimal damage, direct frontal impact. The target was down.

    Mike stood there and looked at the target.

    Brian turned to him and smiled. “I owe you my life.”

    Mike tried his best to keep standing, his head becoming heavy. “Yeah,” he managed to say through clenched teeth.

    Another rifle shot echoed through the air. Mike watched as Brian’s face contorted in a brief look of pain before his body hit the rooftop. Mike looked back at the man. He was standing with a cruel smile. The bullet wound in his head still there and blood still leaking out.

    Mike stumbled back towards the ledge, nearly losing his balance from the sight. “What the hell?!”

    The target looked at Mike with a pity in his eyes. “So young.” He aimed and fired.
    Mike stumbled back off the ledge and fell to the ground below. His head recoiled against the ground. He drifted in and out of consciousness for a few minutes as the last thing he heard was a woman’s scream.

    **************

    That was Chapter One. Now, as suggested by some articles, a few questions.

    1. One a scale on 1-10, 1 being “Utterly horrible, please remove it from my sight!” to 10 being “Dude, this shit rocks, get it published now!” (I’m being comical, but you get the idea :) ) please rate the chapter.

    2. Was the exposition still a problem? Too much or too little?

    3. The pacing concerns me, did it flow correctly, or were there areas of slowdown/speedup that caused the pacing to be off?

    4. The chapter title; good, bad, average?

    As always, any other comments are welcome, but if you get answer any or all of those questions in your reviews, I would much appreciate it. As always, thank you for your time. :)

  14. Contra Gloveon 15 Jul 2009 at 3:44 pm

    To answer #1, it would be a 7.

    For #2, the exposition still seems a little too much; it felt like I was reading Wikipedia.

    For #3, the pacing was okay.

    For #4, your title isn’t too bad.

    -*-*-

    Nice suspense; looks like the enemy’s giving Commander Freeman a run for her money. Despite the exposition, it reads much better than your previous attempt. The sense of foreboding and mystery is about right, but it could be improved if you eliminate the exposition altogether — a secretive US military unit is poking around Iran is interesting enough, and would make me want to read more. Save Mike’s backstory for later chapters.

  15. trekfanon 15 Jul 2009 at 3:53 pm

    ^Thanks Contra. Glad it rated above a 5 (was worried it wouldn’t.)

    The exposition is a thing with me…I ramble, I love to ramble, I love explaining things. Perhaps I’ll set up a wikipage that way I have somewhere to put it all! ;)

    I’ll consider eliminating the exposition. There is quite alot of it there, but I shaved off 500 words from the first draft.

    I think another 500 more would do it right, would you agree?

  16. Contra Gloveon 15 Jul 2009 at 5:18 pm

    I think another 500 more would do it right, would you agree?

    I wouldn’t know — it’s your story.

  17. trekfanon 15 Jul 2009 at 5:39 pm

    ^that’s true. LOL

    Well, I guess so. We’ll see. Thanks for the answer.

  18. trekfanon 15 Jul 2009 at 7:33 pm

    Revision #2 on this chapter. Let’s see now what we got.

    Additions: More dialogue between Mike and Brian, a more in depth briefing from Commander Freeman
    Subtractions: Combining and trimming of exposition. Another 400 words chopped off, most of Mike’s backstory elements have been removed. Backstory of SSA has been mostly cut and rewritten into dialogue.

    ********

    Chapter One: A Soft Man and a Hard Landing

    The intense heat of the desert caused him to sweat. He was trying his best to escape the heat, but he failed immensely. The tent he was under was made of a green fabric, and best of all was like an oven. It was going to cook him alive, and if his team had anything to do with it they’d butter him up and stuff him too. Like a turkey.

    The day was slowly beginning to turn to night. Life was a little less bearable here in Iran. Okay, more than a little less bearable. It was completely unbearable. He didn’t like being stuck here, in what basically amounted to enemy territory. His skin was dry from the heat and he sweated like a dog here. He didn’t smell any better.

    “Mike…Mike, you there?”

    He put down the book he was barely reading to see his friend’s sunburned face and his military cut red hair, making him the Irish wise cracker he was.

    “Brian, what are you doing here?”

    Brian ribbed him and smiled. “I hear we’re going to see some action tonight.”

    “Women?”

    “Don’t tease me, Ferguson.” Brian looked outside the tent. “The movers and shakers are gathering gear. We may have found what the Agency is looking for.”

    “Special Services Agency,” Mike corrected. “Look, that’s been done before. We’ll probably go out, call his name, and then find he isn’t home. We’ll trod back here, exhausted, and go to bed only to wake up a few hours later. Why do I want to get my hopes up for that?”

    “I’d rather be out doing something than reading a book in a hot tent,” Brian said smartly. “The SSA wants this guy and I say we give him to them. We’ll get a great paycheck out of it”

    “We already get a great paycheck. They should pay us more for being in the middle of Iran.”

    “I think that’s covered in our Christmas bonus…speaking of which, look what I got.”

    He brought out a hand wrapped sandwich, and Mike stared at him in awe.

    “You snuck off the grounds?” The team had been ordered to stay put. No entering the nearby town under any circumstances, unless ordered by a superior officer. Most soldiers would have stayed put like Mike, but Brian O’Donnell was a rule breaker by design. He’d never been able to follow every rule. He hadn’t been able to follow many at all.

    “You bet. I have no doubt that you’re…interested?”

    “Yes.” He didn’t even hesitate. His stomach was now in control. The meal they had eaten at dinner was hardly a meal. Rations with some mildly fresh water.

    Brian looked at him mischievously. “Now…what will I make you do for it?”

    Mike stared at him in shock. “You wouldn’t?”

    “I would.” He leaned back and looked over the sandwich that he was holding. “It’s a big sandwich…fact is, I couldn’t eat it myself. I know that there are others who might want to half it with me.”

    Mike stared at him. He couldn’t believe his ears. He knew that in order to get the sandwich he was going to have to do something horrid. “What do you want?”

    “I knew you would be interested.” He grinned and leaned forward, his eyes never leaving Mike’s. “So…perhaps you’ll be willing to part with that little piece of candy you managed to get a few weeks back.”

    Mike folded his arms. “The one that I got from the market place?”

    “The same one.”

    Brian struck a hard bargain. That candy was like taffy, but it tasted like chocolate. It was among the hardest things to find in the area of the world they were in, and when Mike had bought it at that marketplace Brian had eyed it carefully. He’d been planning this for weeks.

    Mike knew for a fact that he would miss this candy. It had been one of the bright spots during his time here. He had made it last this long. It was going to be tough to part with. Furthermore, the relief of having something sweet after a long day was something he valued.

    “You got a deal.” Mike reached for the candy and Brian traded him the sandwich.
    Brian gave if a sniff and ate it all in one bite. He began to chew on it while Mike ate his sandwich slowly.

    “Wow this is good…I mean, wow.” Mike took another bite and chewed on it, savoring the flavor.

    Brian smiled. “I was told it was made from fresh goat; they even cooked it a little raw.”

    Mike stopped mid-chew and looked down at his sandwich. Brian was right. The meat was barely cooked. Mike’s stomach almost performed a somersault and he fought to keep his food down. The reason this sandwich was so good was because of the spices on it, and how they blended in with the raw meat.

    Brian just smiled. Mike looked at him with cold eyes. He should have known this was a set up. The Irishmen had never been known to play fair. Mike decided then and there to beat him at his own game.

    “Really? I always was a fan of rare.” He put the thought of raw food out of his mind and began to eat more of the sandwich. This was going to be tough to finish, but he knew he had to. If nothing else, to prove Brian wrong and rub it in his face.

    Brian played convinced, but he kept waiting for Mike to vomit. He kept waiting for the inevitable cursing and the usual jabs. None of them came. Because at the end of the day, Mike finished the sandwich and licked his fingers as Brian stared at him in awe.

    “Damn it, Mike. I thought for sure you wouldn’t finish that.”

    He swallowed hard and looked at Brian with amused eyes. “You’re an ass, you know that?”

    “Oh, you bet I do. I know I’m an ass. I’m fun though, aren’t I?”

    Mike just sat there and shook his head. That’s when he heard the bell. The bell. The bell that signified a need to get dressed and ready. Their commander was calling them.



    The process of dressing was quick but getting the gear wasn’t. He had spent far too long trying to heave the fifty pound gear on his back and he arrived at the meeting late. His commander, Abby Freeman, was known to run the show her way on her time. Arriving at a meeting late was like lighting a fuse and hoping it would go out on its own; she had a temper. She wasn’t mean, but she was tough. He respected that in her and he respected the fact she took pride in her work. She was just as fit, if not fitter, than most of her men. Mike wasn’t sure if that was because she felt she needed to be or that she didn’t want to be seen as weak. He was sure he’d never get a chance to ask her.

    Commander Freeman looked at the crowd of soldiers and nodded her head. Her black hair was chopped short, and her body was toned. “Today is the day.”

    Her simple words carried much meaning. The crowd of officers began to whisper silently, but Mike and Brian just looked at her curiously. They were both new. They had a little knowledge on who they were chasing, but some of the team had been chasing this person for years.

    She held up her hand. “Our target has been sighted in a village three miles from here. Reports indicate he’s not expecting us. I want to keep it that way.”

    She pointed to a large map nearby and Mike stood on his toes to see it. “He’s trapped by nearby canyon walls and a river. The only way out is the way he came in. We’re going to go in and capture him, and finally end this thing.” She paced in front of her men, her eyes looking into each of theirs. “We’ve been after him since ’79. He killed four hundred of our fellow officers. I want each and every one of you to remember that.”

    The men in the group nodded and she began to walk into the crowd. The men began to part ways, like she was Moses parting the Red Sea. “The SSA has given us our orders and we are going to carry them out. Even if it comes down to the last man, you are to carry out those orders. Is that understood?”

    “Yes, sir!” They answered in unison. Mike shuffled his feet as she got closer to him.

    Commander Freeman stopped barely two feet from Mike and took a deep breath.
    “Our intelligence reports he’s been accepted as a member of this village. Which means civilian lives are at risk if we attack directly. Thusly, we’re going to call in an air strike, and gas the village. I want most of our forces to wait outside the village entrance, while I take a small squad in and we’ll wait for the strike. He’ll be caught off guard, and that may be enough for us to tranquilize him. If not, and we fail…well, you know the drill.”

    The team went silent as each of them knew what “the drill” was. If the small squad failed, lethal force was authorized. Anything would go, as long as the target was eliminated. That was the paramount goal. If the squad failed, the added meaning was that they were dead. The target was not known for his mercy. He’d killed a number of innocents already. He wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

    Commander Freeman stood tall and she looked at the group as a whole. “We’re gonna take this bastard down tonight. One way or another. We move out in twenty minutes. Godspeed.”

    As the soldiers disbanded, Mike looked at Brian. “This is it.”

    Brian kept staring at the sky. “God help us.”



    The night was humid and hot, but unlike the day the heat wasn’t unbearable. Sunset had come and gone. Mike was left to wonder what was wrong with Commander Freeman. She had seemed a little nervous before this whole venture started. She hadn’t had the confidence she had before. Maybe it was because how close they were, or maybe it was the truth of the matter that very few people ever came back from an encounter with this man. Time was of the essence. The element of surprise wouldn’t be with them long.

    The radio in Mike’s ear buzzed, and he realized they were here. General stealth positions were ordered and Mike found cover and activated his night vision. The village ahead of them was in very poor shape. A few houses, more huts, but all of them looked in disrepair. The air was thick with the smell of smoke from the bonfire at the center of the village.

    He heard the sound of jet engines. Very faint, but he heard it. He was an Air Force brat; he knew the sounds of planes. This one he didn’t recognize. It wasn’t the first time, but it was disturbing. There were planes being flown that Mike knew nothing about, and he didn’t like the feeling of not knowing. It was empty, yet laced with fear.

    He looked back and saw a thin gas spreading throughout the village. The package had been delivered.

    “Ferguson, O’Donnell, Boraz, and Javier. You’re with me. The rest, hold position. Lethal force is authorized if we don’t make it out.”

    Mike swallowed hard. This is why he was here. He was one of a handful of support men on the team. There were maybe two others. Brian was a sniper, born and raised. He would find a nice spot and camp while the rest would scout the area.

    Mike moved forward and caught sight of Brian heading up to the rooftops of one of the building. He was quiet, stealth trained. Mike fought down the urge to turn around and run, and fell in line behind his commander. She gave him a quick look of reassurance, but there was something else in her eyes…fear. She was scared, but why? What did she know that Mike didn’t?

    He looked over and saw Javier and Boraz taking up the winged areas. They were in the shadows, walking slowly, barely making a sound. Mike felt a little safer with them there.

    That’s when he heard it. A low, almost inaudible sound coming from above him. He looked up and wondered what it was. It sounded like…like a—

    “COVERING FIRE!!” The order echoed as his commander dragged him down to the dirt and immediately Mike heard gunfire erupt. Something was above him and Mike pointed his gun up and let loose a few rounds. He watched as someone jumped off the roof…

    That someone landed on the roof across from him. That roof was over sixteen yards away. He blinked, unable to comprehend what he just saw. What the hell could do that?

    “Ferguson, pay attention!” His commander’s order snapped him out of it and she turned to look as the target found Javier. He had been climbing onto the roof, but he had been snatched up from the ladder. They sat there and waited. Silence engulfed them.

    She activated her radio and stared at the roof across from them. “Javier, do you read me?”

    The radio was silent. Then, someone’s breathing was heard over the line.

    “You’ve gotten sloppy.” Mike stood up, Freeman with him. She looked at the rooftop across from them.

    Javier was hanging down from the roof, his body being held up by his gun strap. His head was twisted around. His neck had been broken.

    She got her gun and looked around. “Show yourself or be killed!”

    Mike heard laughter over the radio. Calm laughter, but the voice had been deep. Not booming, but deep enough to make him tighten his grip. It made him eager to have something to shoot at…anything to shoot out. The voice spoke once more, “So young…what a pity.”

    Boraz flew out of the dark alleyway across from them. He had been impaled by his own rifle. His face bore a look of frozen dread on it. His blood trickling from his mouth.
    Mike blinked. He realized who was next. He dropped his gun and took off running. He hadn’t much time. Not too much time at all. He had to save him. Had to save Brian. He was next. His sniper spot had been discovered. Mike got to the first rooftop and began climbing the ladder. He heard the sound of a sniper rifle going off. He doubled his pace. He reached the roof in time to see Brian struggling with the target.

    The man’s hair was messy, his clothes ragged, but his body clean. His hair was covered in blood, dripping off him onto the ragged clothes. The target didn’t seem to care, too busy enjoying the moment. Mike hesitated for a second. Just a second. He had come to save his friend, but this man was a killer. He had disposed of two of the best trained individuals in the whole team. Mike’s heart beat in his ears like a drum thump thump thump thumpthumpthump thump…

    He decided to go out with some honor. He lunged at the man, dragging him off Brian and onto the ground. He locked his arms against the target’s head, trying to push him into the rooftop. That’s when Mike felt it. Something sharp had impaled him…the metal a stark contrast to his skin, the cold steel sending shivers through his body. He rolled off the target and looked to his gut. The knife was deep, and the color of red had already stained the fabric around his wound. Mike reached out with his right hand, seeing it shake as it touched the knife handle. Was it really there?

    He focused on Brian and saw him reaching for his handgun. He scraped his knees as he stood. His face was red from the pulsating pain and he reached out, dragging the target back. That was all it took as his friend fired.

    The target dropped, his body went still. Headshot. Minimal damage, direct frontal impact. The target was down.

    Mike stood there and looked at the target.

    Brian turned to him and smiled. “I owe you my life.”

    Mike tried his best to keep standing, his head becoming heavy. “Yeah,” he managed to say through clenched teeth.

    Another rifle shot echoed through the air. Mike watched as Brian’s face contorted in a brief look of pain before his body hit the rooftop. Mike looked back at the man. He was standing with a cruel smile. The bullet wound in his head still there and blood still leaking out.

    Mike stumbled back towards the ledge, nearly losing his balance from the sight. “What the hell?!”

    The target looked at Mike with a pity in his eyes. “So young.” He aimed and fired.

    Mike stumbled back off the ledge and fell to the ground below. His head recoiled against the ground. He drifted in and out of consciousness for a few minutes and the last thing he heard was a woman’s scream.

    **********

    Questions

    1. One a scale on 1-10, 1 being “Utterly horrible, please remove it from my sight!” to 10 being “Dude, this shit rocks, get it published now!” (I’m being comical, but you get the idea :) ) please rate the chapter.

    2. Was the exposition still a problem?

    3. Did the removal of the backstory elements of Mike and the SSA make things flow smoother?

    As always, any other comments are welcome, but if you can answer any or all of those questions in your reviews, I would much appreciate it. As always, thank you for your time. :)

  19. Contra Gloveon 16 Jul 2009 at 3:17 pm

    I would give this one an 8. Very good!

    Removing the exposition helped quite a lot, and I was able to follow the events far more smoothly.

    Below are my comments regarding the mechanics. Don’t worry; the events flow well together; it’s just that I noticed some word, phrase, and sentence choices that could use some improvement.

    Keep up the good work!

    -*-*-

    …and best of all it was like an oven.

    I suggest “…and all the heat trapped inside made it like an oven”

    …making him the Irish wise cracker he was.

    Should be “…marking him as the Irish wisecracker he was.”

    The meal they had eaten at dinner was hardly a meal. Rations with some mildly fresh water.

    I suggest “The meal they ate at dinner was hardly a meal; it was just rations with some mildly fresh water.”

    The reason this sandwich was so good was because of the spices on it, and how they blended in with the raw meat.

    I suggest “The reason this sandwich was so good was because the spices on it blended with the raw meat so well.”

    The Irishmen had never been known to play fair.

    The Irishmen in the unit or Irishmen in general? If it’s Irishmen in general, you should omit “The.” If it’s the Irishmen in the unit, you should replace “The Irishmen” with “The Irishmen in the unit”. (Wow, I wrote “Irishmen” one too many times! :))

    This was going to be tough to finish, but he knew he had to. If nothing else, to prove Brian wrong and rub it in his face.

    I suggest “This was going to be tough to finish, but he knew he had to in order to prove Brian wrong and rub it in his face, if nothing else.”

    Because at the end of the day, Mike finished the sandwich and licked his fingers as Brian stared at him in awe.

    I suggest omitting the phrase “Because at the end of the day”.

    Our intelligence reports he’s been accepted as a member of this village. Which means civilian lives are at risk if we attack directly.

    I suggest “Our intelligence reports he’s been accepted as a member of this village, which means civilian lives are at risk if we attack directly.” Note the comma after the word “village”; otherwise, you can leave the sentence as is.

    Thusly, we’re going to call in an air strike,

    I suggest “Therefore” in place of “Thusly.”

    We’re gonna take this bastard down tonight. One way or another.

    I suggest “We’re gonna take this bastard down tonight, one way or another.”

    He was quiet, stealth trained.

    I suggest “He was quiet and stealthy.”

  20. trekfanon 16 Jul 2009 at 6:47 pm

    *beams* Fantastic. My goal is to get every chapter rated at least above an 8. That’s a B and is fairy good, and I’m happy with fairly good. I’ll add your suggestions into the notes doc, but the events flow well and that’s the important thing. The polishing up with the phrases/word choices/sentence structure can occur on my time. Thanks alot Contra.:)

    Next up, Ch. 2. So far, the working titles in the running are;

    A. Chapter Two: Malone, a Man Alone (based on a phrase a review on another site gave the character introduced here)
    b. Chapter Two: Orders and Executions (based on the events that transpired in the last chapter and how they affect this one)
    c. Chapter Two: Headcases at Headquarters (a bit whimsical, but it does describe the SSA very well-everyone there has their issues in one way or another)
    d. Chapter Two: Crossroads (it basically describes the decision at the end of the chapter which will influence where things will go in the future of the book)
    e. Chapter Two: Majority Rules (this describes how that decision succeeded, by majority)

    Right, those are the five titles in contention. Until Ch 2 is posted (within the next two days I feel), have that to tide you folks over. Vote on the ones you like, but only vote for your favorite two. Also, if you could explain why you voted for it (“it was cool dude” or “Highly intelligent sounding” works fine ;) ) I would appreciate it alot.

    As always, thank you for your time and hope to see more of you. Stay Tuned :)

  21. Contra Gloveon 16 Jul 2009 at 7:09 pm

    I would go with option E because it suits the serious tone of your story, uses a well-known phrase, and doesn’t give away too much. (Option C is more suited for a comedy, like B. Mac’s own Superhero Nation.)

  22. trekfanon 17 Jul 2009 at 8:04 am

    Yeah, option c is pretty comical. But it never hurts to throw a little laugh here and there.

    Option E has one vote!

    Thanks Contra.

  23. trekfanon 20 Jul 2009 at 2:18 pm

    I must apologize for the long wait for Ch. 2. I’ve been swamped with work these last few days and other personal matters, but I shall try my hardest to have it up by the end of this week. Wednesday I think looks good.

    Thanks for your patience.

  24. trekfanon 23 Jul 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Right, Chapter Two is here! Thanks for your patience. Now, this chapter introduces the SSA headquarters, the major players there, and what’s ahead for the SSA. As always enjoy, any and all comments are welcome.

    ************

    Chapter Two: Majority Rules

    “Another drink?”

    “I’m fine, thanks.” General Thomas Malone sat down with his Scotch in one hand and rubbed his eyes with the other. “What time is it anyway?”

    “I was hoping you’d tell me, considering it’s your house and all.” General Bob Huff squinted his eyes and scowled. “Damn things…” he pulled out his glasses and glanced at the clock across from him. “It’s late. Two in the morning.”

    “Perfect,” Thomas frowned but downed the rest of his Scotch. The liquid settled into his gut and he felt a little better. He sat the glass down on the table next to him and stared at the man across from him. “As my superior, I believe you need to order me to bed.”

    “Go to hell.” Huff smiled wryly and took off his glasses again. “I’ve been here for three hours…maybe four by now. We’ve beat around the bush long enough, Tom.”

    Thomas winced slightly at the use of his nickname. “Don’t call me that. No one calls me that anymore.”

    “Old habits and all…I’m an old dog with few tricks. Be thankful I can still remember your name.”

    The two men laughed at that fact, but it didn’t escape Thomas’ view that they were both growing older. He knew that a man lost things with age and memory was among those things.

    Huff grunted as he finished his wine and leaned back in the old recliner. “I think Washington’s made me soft after all these years. I used to hate this stuff.”

    “I remember you used to turn down alcohol at any occasion.” Thomas grinned widely. “God…you were so young then.”

    “So were you,” Huff said quietly. His eyes scanned over Thomas slowly. “What am I here for?”

    Thomas shifted slightly, sitting forward. It took some effort for him not to sit back; the alcohol in his system made him sleepy. “I wanted to talk to you about Boval.”

    “Ah hell,” Huff said angrily, his eyes flashing. “You brought me here for that?!”

    “It’s not what you think—”

    “Sure as hell seems like it.” Huff shook his head, a scowl predominantly fixed on his face. “I told you, I’ve done all I can to block it. Boval’s got a lot of support on the committee.”

    “Shouldn’t I have more? Isn’t my position more important to the security and safety of the SSA?”

    “They want results, not monthly reports on suspicious activity.”

    Thomas locked his jaw and stared at Huff. “I do a lot more than that.”

    Huff’s face became apologetic, but his tone seemed insincere. “Look…it’s not what I meant.”

    “I think you meant every word of it and you know what? I don’t care what they think.”

    “You better care,” Huff said as he leaned into the space that separated the two recliners, “they’re looking for any reason to approve Boval’s project. I can’t say I blame them. We’ve been stuck doing the same thing for years now.”

    “1979 shouldn’t be disregarded because of how long ago it was.”

    Huff merely frowned. “I’m not rehashing that.”

    “I will if you won’t.” Thomas struggled to his feet, holding the top of the recliner with a firm hand. Once he was standing he turned to face Huff full on. “He’s killed far too many since then. Four hundred men and women of the SSA were slaughtered for what? Honor? Patriotism? No, they were slaughtered for nothing!”

    “If you want to hide behind that, go ahead, but we both know what’s rubbing you the wrong way.”

    Thomas narrowed his eyes. “Genius now, aren’t you?”

    Granger.”

    The name made Thomas stare at his superior for a moment before slowly retaking his seat. “All right, Granger.”

    “He went over your head and ordered a team to hunt down that manic. You’re still pissed at him and you just want to take it out on someone you don’t like, so you picked Boval.”

    Thomas sighed. It was the truth. “Always were good at reading me.”

    “Comes with years of practice.” Huff grinned, “Look, that’s how it works. The committee wants that manic back and I say, let them have him. The man has state secrets anyway.”

    “It’s not like it matters anymore. Russia, Iran, North Korea, China, and a host of others have confirmed programs. Why? Because that man visited them and gave them the template needed to start them.”

    “All right,” Huff said as got up and poured himself another drink, “he’s a threat, yes. Your recommendation of ‘let’s play it safe’ didn’t sit well with the committee. Fact is, Granger got the votes he needed because you recommended the safe course of action.”

    “I should be ashamed of that?!”

    “You shouldn’t be proud,” he said as he finished pouring the last of the wine. “Look, it’s not a damned circus in Washington. We do get things done despite the overwhelming perception we’re a bunch of fat asses sitting around all day and eating.”

    Thomas laughed mockingly at him. “Really? I tend to agree with the perception.”

    “We make decisions. Those decisions are subject to really anal games of bureaucratic crap. Your suggestion of ‘play it safe’ didn’t stand a chance. You should have recommended something more aggressive!”

    “And waste more lives!”

    The room grew silent at that. The sounds of the wind blowing outside the house were the only sounds for a full thirty seconds. Thomas leaned back in his chair and brought both hands to his face.

    “That’s what this is about, isn’t it?” Huff grabbed a picture off the table beside him and flashed it at Thomas, “What you lost when you took this job.”

    Thomas uncovered his face. “I lost nothing.”

    “The hell you didn’t.”

    Thomas stared at the picture of his once wife and daughter. His eyes never left theirs. “Sacrifice is part of this game we play, Bob.”

    “She left you, solider. Don’t eat yourself up over this.”

    “You know why she left me. I brought the problems at work home…and that destroyed my home.”

    Huff grinned weakly. “That’s the Scotch talking.” His grin faded when Thomas’ eyes stayed glued to the picture.

    “She’ll be 19 years old in a few months. I missed her party last year…missed her sweet sixteen…missed a lot to be honest.”

    Huff placed the picture back on the table and took his seat, the wine glass eerily steady as he older man sank into the recliner. “Life in this service doesn’t get easier for anyone; the family is the first to suffer.”

    Thomas looked to Huff sadly. “You seem to be all right.”

    “You know how much work that took out of me to preserve it.” Huff sipped his wine. “Harder than any damned battle I ever fought. Counseling and more counseling…it was annoying as hell.”

    “You kept it together at least…when Gale asked for a divorce I blew my lid.”

    “A perfectly natural reaction,” Huff caught a look of anger from Thomas and he amended his statement, “at least for you anyway.”

    Thomas nodded his head and sighed. “It’s been a long night.”

    “Yes it has.” Huff finished his wine and picked up his jacket. “Take it easy.”

    Thomas nodded weakly, but the parting of ways was interrupted by a loud phone ring. It was louder then Thomas had ever heard it but he was sure the Scotch made it seem that way. He picked up the phone slowly and answered it. “Malone here.”

    In an instant his face darkened and his eyes focused. “Damn it…give me ten and don’t do anything till I get there!” He turned the phone off and threw it to the ground. He looked to Huff angrily. “Granger’s team didn’t make it.” He stood and brushed by Huff quickly. “Show yourself the door.” He walked out and to his car, not waiting for a response.

    ———

    He arrived in time to see the two men he needed to see. One was his dear friend, a man he’d grown to love like a brother over the years; Colonel Justin Richardson or JR as Thomas had come to call him. JR was fifteen years younger than him, and by god he looked fifteen years older right now.

    Across from him sat the one person Thomas didn’t like; Doctor Isaac Boval. His face was contorted in a look of confusion.

    Thomas had little time to clean up before he got here, so he was still in his tank top shirt and slacks from earlier that day. He probably smelled bad, but at this point he didn’t care. He looked to JR first, and he could tell things were bad. Really bad.

    “They’re all dead.”

    Thomas stood there and looked at him. His immediate thought was who, but he already knew that. “How?”

    JR sighed and kept looking at the screen ahead of him. “Multiple different ways. Guns, hangings, excessive force…”

    Thomas waved him off. “What happened? This is the first engagement with him in over five years, how did he adjust so fast to our tactics?”

    JR shook his head. “He didn’t adjust to anything. He knew we were coming when we gassed the village. He just sat and watched our soldiers walk into a one man ambush.”

    “How do we know they’re dead?”

    JR looked at him. “UAV confirmed it. That is before it was shot down. We wanted to be sure, so we sent it on a second sweep. He shot it right out of the sky.”

    Thomas brightened up a little; he was looking for some sign of hope, some sign that Granger hadn’t sent those people on a suicide mission. “UAV’s aren’t the most reliable things out there. There may be someone left.”

    JR shook his head. “He didn’t stop at the village. He went to the campsite, killed everyone there too. He also got hold of some of our…more advanced weaponry.”

    Thomas blinked. He hadn’t expected that. “Who authorized the use of our advanced tech for this mission?”

    JR scowled. “Came from Granger.”

    He slammed his fist onto the table. Granger; his face contorted into a dark scowl. “Damn him…”

    The chipper voice of Isaac Boval cut into Thomas’ mulling. “I told you so.”

    “You TOLD ME SO!?”

    He almost lunged then and there, but JR grabbed his wrist and that calmed Thomas down enough to let him regain his senses. As he had told himself for years, Boval wasn’t worth it. Even if it would have felt good.

    Boval shrugged at Thomas’s outburst, as though it was a light hearted question. “Granger can’t be trusted in the least and you know that. Yet you stood by for this. I wonder why?”

    Thomas glared at the man. He was easily taller and stronger than Boval. He could break him within minutes. “I did everything I could to prevent this! You should be the one the dead!” His eyes burned with fury.

    The bald scientist let a smug smirk flash across his face, seemingly ignoring the death threat. “Doing that would be a waste of valuable resources, General. Remember how much I matter around here.”

    Thomas sighed and looked back to JR, firmly ignoring the feeling of rage. “How long till we can have someone over there?”

    “A day max. I’ve already sent a team, armed to the teeth. I seriously doubt we’ll get him though. The man is too damned cunning…and he’s got this down pat. He knows how to avoid us.”

    Thomas nodded solemnly. He sat down in a nearby chair and rubbed his hands over his face. “God…what are we going to do? He’s made it clear he knows we’re coming for him.” He dropped his hands down and stared at the table.

    “Tank, I doubt he’s just pulling this at random. There has to be a purpose. We went five years without encountering him. Why now?”

    At the mention of his old nickname, Thomas smiled internally. Been a long while since anyone had called him that. The good feeling quickly dissipated when he reminded himself how bad the situation was.

    “I couldn’t tell you.” He looked over to Boval and scowled. He didn’t like help from this man. “Ideas?”

    Boval smiled. “I thought you’d never ask.”

    “I wouldn’t if I had a choice.”

    The scientist scoffed but answered the question anyway. “My best idea is that he’s planning something.”

    JR looked at Boval in mock shock. “Really?”

    “Really, Colonel.”

    Boval’s equally sarcastic answer was beginning to push Thomas over the edge, but he ignored his feelings and continued. “I need an explanation. You studied this man intensely over the years. You have to have some idea of what he’s doing.”

    “General, I would kindly remind you that science cannot be achieved without study, and the studying I did was looking at the science of the man. Not his psych profile.”

    “You’re obsessive. I know you studied everything about him. Spill it.”

    The scientist nodded reluctantly. “He’s tactically sound. A strategist. He always plays with the foreknowledge he can get out of any situation. He has at least two plans of action when one fails.”

    JR turned to face Boval, a look of annoyance on his face. “Why the hell is he doing this?”

    Boval looked at him equally annoyed. “Simply put, he’s tired of running. He wants a new challenge. This kind of game only holds its appeal so long, and the fact is we’re not putting as much emphasis on him as we once did. Yes, he has secrets we would like back, but he knows we’re concentrating on bigger things now.”

    Thomas put it together quickly. “He thinks we’re bored with him?”

    “More than that, he thinks we’re tired of the game too. So, he’s changing the rules. His psych file indicates he likes to change the rules when it suits his interests. So, whatever he’s doing, he has something to gain from it.”

    “The Iranians?” JR’s tone was accusatory, and for once Thomas couldn’t blame him. They were likely suspects.

    Boval shrugged. “Perhaps. His movements didn’t indicate any activity near an Iranian military complex…but there are ways around that.”

    “Mobile lab.” The words tasted dry to Thomas. They had encountered mobile labs before, but the lab itself was time consuming to move and required a mass cleanup effort in order to leave no traces.

    “Yes, General, a mobile lab. I would bet it was at the very village the target was staying at.”

    “What about the people?”

    “A front or pawns in a game they weren’t aware of. At any rate, those people were hiding a fugitive.” Boval folded his arms. “I wouldn’t hesitate to question them on what they know.”

    Thomas scowled. “You’re not in charge here.”

    “Pity.” With that last quip Boval left the room and Thomas shook his head. Even when he was helpful, he still was a pain in the ass.


    JR turned toward him and smiled. “I guess you’re gonna break something else besides his nose?”


    “If I had my way, it’d be his neck.”


    “Ouch.”


    He looked at his friend with angry eyes. “He’s a piss to deal with, and an arrogant ass to boot.”

    JR nodded his head. “I saw. Still, you and he share a common quality.”

    “What’s that?”

    JR smiled. “You’re both good at pissing people off.”

    Thomas looked at him and smiled. “I guess so.”

    The room went silent as the two looked at each other for a minute, both contemplating the questions in their minds. Thomas was the first to voice them. “Can we stop him?”

    JR shrugged. “Maybe. If we pump him full of enough lead. Hamper his abilities somehow.”

    “That’s unlikely to happen. No one we’ve found so far can match him.”

    “Finding someone like him is near impossible.” JR looked at him with saddened eyes. “We’ll have to resort to other measures.”

    Thomas straightened up. “I can’t believe I’m hearing this.”

    “Boval’s right. Has been all along.”

    “Damn it, no he’s not!”

    JR didn’t look him in the eyes, just shifted his gaze to the table. “He needs a majority. He’ll get it.”

    “He can’t!” Thomas stood from his chair, his face red. “He wants to make more of that murderer! He wants to clone that man!”

    “Don’t mix your personal feelings with your judgment, Tank.”

    He slammed his fist onto the table, bringing his friends gaze back to him. “It’s not the way. Even with the majority, it still has to be approved, and I’ll be damned if it will.”

    “You know it has to be done. We should have begun years ago, when we had the chance. Maybe could have stopped him from doing this.”

    Thomas shook his head angrily. “You can’t let them be the catalyst for this. They deserve better.”

    JR stared at him coldly. “They died in the line of duty. They knew the risks. They signed up for it anyway. Their families will be taken care of.”

    Thomas stood from his chair. “And who will take care of their memory?”

    JR launched out of his. “They will be remembered.”

    “As what, the deaths that started Boval’s train wreck of an idea?”

    “It’ll work. He’s shown us the tests, it’ll work.”

    Thomas stared at him coolly. “What if it doesn’t? What if we end up creating something worse?”

    The room went silent again as the two men stared at each other.

    Not another word was spoken as JR left.

    Thomas sank into his chair again.

    “Damn them all…” he whispered to himself.

    *****************

    Questions

    1. On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being terrible and 10 being Freakin Awesome, rate this chapter please :)

    2. This chapter introduces a lot of characters that will be expanded upon in the future. Was it too many characters at once?

    3. Did the characters seem to have their own voice?

    4. Was the pacing good or bad?

    As always, thanks for your time and patience.

  25. ShardReaperon 23 Jul 2009 at 6:45 pm

    1. 9.5

    2. It sort of seemed that JR was replacing Huff in terms of a moral foil to Tom. Huff could’ve just gone with Tom and the conversation might’ve been the same.

    3. You’ve made it clear who likes/dislikes who (this is the first chapter I’ve read, so when I read the others, I’ll get back to you). I think it’d be nice if, outside of references, we have a small flashback or two demonstrating where these relationships come from, at least so they feel real.

    4. The pacing was good. It might’ve helped if there was a visual of what Granger and the others went through (for example, one of the UAVs’ caught video footage of the murder).

    Keep up the good work. If you could swing by my review forum and pick at Project Hero, you’d be doing me a solid. Thanks.

  26. trekfanon 23 Jul 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Much obliged, and so I shall swing by yours Shardreaper. :)

    Answers to your answers:

    1. Thanks a bundle

    2. JR and Huff are rather interchangeable at this point. There basic character designs share some commonalities, but as we see in Ch. 4 and 5, JR and Thomas will begin to diverge greatly, and Huff basically stays the middleman.

    3. FLASHBACKS!! I love flashbacks. You know, at this point, it could have been done. It would have been quite plausible too as Malone is rather intoxicated so his mind can be subject to drifting, but I really wanted to show that even when Malone was intoxicated, he still functioned well (in some respects anyway). Flashbacks will be present in chapter 3 for sure (though 3 follows chapter 1′s characters.)

    4. The visuals are actually quite present in the end chapter 1 (where we see the team get dismantled) and actually, again, could have been done. However, I did do a visual in one of the earlier drafts of this chapter, however, my other reviewers (on another site) commented on the visuals being “too strong” some comparing it to a Stephen King novel. The deaths weren’t kind. I felt the visuals could be lost without major damage done to the chapter.

    Thanks for the surprise drop by! :)

  27. Contra Gloveon 28 Jul 2009 at 5:11 pm

    I just read it. Sorry I forgot about you for a bit.

    Good job! Keep ‘em coming.

  28. trekfanon 28 Jul 2009 at 9:18 pm

    No problem, Contra. I’ve been busy with work the last few days, so I haven’t really had time to post much. Thanks for the response.

  29. trekfanon 30 Jul 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Now, for Chapter Three. This one features Brian O’Donnell prominently and is rather short. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy. As always any and all comments are welcome.
    ***********

    Chapter Three: Moments of Truth

    Brian O’Donnell rolled over and winced in pain. Intense pain. His left side had a bullet wound in it, his shirt soaked in dried blood. He had fallen backwards when he was shot. He didn’t remember anything after that.

    His red hair was wet with sweat and gravel. Then it suddenly occurred to him. There were others. Other people. He had to warn them. Had to let them know the target was coming.

    He reached over to his ear and tapped his radio. “O’Donnell to anyone, do you read?”

    Static. The sound of white noise.

    He shook his head, but the motion made him dizzy. He had lost a lot blood. How much was anyone’s guess, but he knew moving was a bad idea.

    He did it anyway. He brought himself to a sitting position, and ignored the pain and the tear drops rolling down his face. He brought his knee up and put it on the ground. He stayed that way for a minute, trying to catch his breath. It was tough. He felt his head becoming heavy, but knew he needed to ignore the pain.

    He reached into his top vest pocket, and brought out a morphine shot. He quickly jammed it into his thigh, and threw the vile away. That would allow him to ignore the pain. He knew it would take a few minutes, but he needed to get up.

    He braced himself and stood up quickly, nearly doubling over. His left side screamed in agony. Brian assumed he had an injured organ at least. Internal bleeding was a good possibility. His chances for survival were slim. He was alone. No one from the camp, no one from the team. There was no one.

    He slowly turned around and looked over onto the street below. Javier and Boraz were still where they were. He saw his commander and closed his eyes.

    She didn’t deserve what happened. Her face was mauled, her body left untouched. The target had made his intentions clear. She must have suffered before she died.

    He then caught sight of Mike. He was lying on the ground directly below him. Brian saw his body rise and fall.

    Mike was still breathing.

    He felt a rush of energy hit him, and realized he had a new purpose. Help his friend. He turned around and looked at the ladder in front of him. The morphine had started to take effect. He didn’t feel the pain much anymore, but his head was still dizzy, his vision was beginning to blur. He decided to climb down the ladder.

    The climb was painful. Even with the morphine in his system he still felt pain. He had gone slowly at first, but he realized he was still going to hurt no matter what speed he went. He then went fast. The pain came at him fast too. His breathing became rapid but he kept climbing.

    He landed on the ground, his body barely responding to him anymore. He was losing strength, his mind slowing. He stumbled over to Mike’s body, and rolled him over.

    His friend was seriously injured. The handle of the knife was now buried in him. It was in so deep Brian doubted it could be removed anytime soon. Mike’s head had cuts on it; his mouth had dried blood on the sides. His bullet wound in his chest was wide. He had a chunk blown out of him; he was closer to the gun than Brian was.

    He didn’t want to do it. He didn’t. He ripped open his friend’s shirt, and looked away.
    Mike’s flesh had hung on somehow. Few nerve thread that there were. He doubted Mike even felt it.

    He shook off the feeling of sickness and reached into Mike’s top pocket.

    “Damn it…”

    Mike’s morphine vile had broken on impact. There wasn’t any left.

    Mike opened his eyes and looking up at him. A flicker of recognition crossed his face.

    “Brian…”

    He steadied himself. “I’m here, shhh, I’m here.”

    His friend coughed, a ragged foul cough. He could smell the blood on it. Mike was suffering from severe internal bleeding. “Kill me…”

    Brian shook head. “No,shhh, no. I’ll find help, I will, I promise—”

    “Please…”

    “—there won’t be any more fighting, we’re safe now—”

    “Brian, please…”

    “—you have to stay with me, you can’t leave—”

    Mike shot up and Brian scurried backwards. “DAMN IT BRIAN, HELP ME!!!” He fell to ground writhing in pain.

    Brian just sat and stared. Tears began to slowly roll down his face. He couldn’t. He wouldn’t.

    “Kill me…give me the pill.”

    “No.” His voice was quiet, but Brian knew what he was doing. Knew his decision. He wouldn’t kill his best friend. He wouldn’t.

    Mike coughed again, blood now trickling from his mouth at a steady pace. “No choice…you have to…no choice.”

    “I can’t.”

    “You can…it’s for the best…please…please…

    “I won’t.”

    “I won’t survive much longer…please do it…please…”

    Brian stood up and walked over to Boraz’s body. He grabbed the man’s morphine vile and came back over to Mike. The journey took a little over twenty minutes. Brian had to stop and go to avoid passing out from the pain. He quickly stabbed it into Mike’s leg and his friend grimaced in pain.

    “That’ll numb the pain.”

    Mike reached up and grabbed Brian’s leg. “I don’t want to numb it…”

    “I won’t kill you.”

    Mike rolled a little, and then stopped. He laid there for a minute as Brian watched.

    “You don’t have a choice…protocol…”

    “Damn you.” Two cold words that expressed Brian’s hatred of the situation. He wouldn’t kill his friend. That’s one line he’d never cross. One line he’d always refuse.

    Mike didn’t answer. He had passed out. Brian sat down and looked up at the night sky. He figured morning would come soon.

    *********
    Questions:

    1. Please rate this chapter from 1 (Someone Kill me!) to 10 (I’m in Heaven…and there’s cheesecake!). Thanks :)

    2. Does Brian come off as someone different? Did the character voice sound distinct?

    3. Did the coversation and description of Brian’s movements come off correctly? Did it seem too drawn out?

  30. CarsonArtiston 30 Jul 2009 at 3:30 pm

    I think it is a 7… There were a few places it didnt flow imo.

    1. He reached into his top vest pocket, and brought out a morphine shot. He quickly jammed it into his thigh, and threw the vile away.

    not vile – VIAL :-)

    2. He didn’t want to do it. He didn’t. He ripped open his friend’s shirt, and looked away.
    Mike’s flesh had hung on somehow. [*]Few nerve thread that there were.[*] He doubted Mike even felt it.

    I think that sentence is a fragment, you could just replace the period with a comma.

    3.Brian O’Donnell rolled over and winced in pain. Intense pain. His left side had a bullet wound in it, his shirt soaked in dried blood.

    I think the words “soaked in”- which implies something wet, should be replaced with a word like “caked with” or “stiff with” since it is dried blood.

    4. Mike’s head had cuts on it; his mouth had dried blood on the sides.

    maybe -Several lacerations covered Mikes face and the blood at the corners of his mouth told Brian it was mortally serious.

    5. His friend coughed, a ragged foul cough.

    instead of using cough twice, change the first one to “rasped” , “choked” or “gurgled” something like that.
    ———————
    I think the characters have a different voice as brian seems like the more emotional type than mike. Brian comes across as “inexperienced” because he seems to have a great deal of indecision and isnt sure what to do next. Brian is crying and cant bring himself to a cold decision, ending his friends suffering. Mike is ready for death and has come to terms with it already while laying there at deaths door. Im sure mike is contemplating what little he can in his dying stupor.

    I think the part where he goes to boraz’s body for more morphine seems lacking. There doesnt seem to be a sense of urgency to it as you describe mike WALKING to it twenty minutes away. Also if it takes that long, how far is boraz? was mike so hurt that he had to stumble along holding himself up along the alley walls? After 20 min, what was the update on Mikes condition upon returning? Just some minor details that could flesh out that part of the scene. I imagine this a night scene as there are no bystanders, what did the street look like in the glow of the streetlamps….or is it some other kind of illumination?

    Its a good scene that could be tweaked into a really cool, emotionally driven plot point of the story.

  31. trekfanon 30 Jul 2009 at 3:52 pm

    I can agree on all the technical aspects here. Certainly missed “vile.” LOL.

    Now, as to the scene where he goes to Boraz; it was meant to come across as the pain was keeping him from doing it faster. I could add in a scene where he examines Boraz’s body. I think that would amp it up.

    As for the emotional part, that’s in chapter 4, where this scene is finished.

    Thanks for the review:)

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